In many ways, the editors of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, most other papers and the main networks all played their part in pushing the US into the realm of the rogue state. From Mark Danner's report on the torture of disappeared terror suspects:

It is a testament as much to the peculiarities of the American pressto its “stenographic function” and its institutional unwillingness to report as fact anything disputed, however implausibly, by a high officialthat the former vice-president’s insistence that these interrogations were undertaken “legally” and “in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles” continues to be reported without contradiction, and that President Bush’s oft-repeated assertion that “the United States does not torture” is still respectfully quoted and, in many quarters, taken seriously.

That they are so reported is a political fact, and a powerful one. It makes it possible to contend that, however adamant the arguments of the lawyers “on either side,” the very fact of their disagreement makes the legality of these procedures a matter of partisan political allegiance, not of law.

When future generations ask how this happened, the corrupted and coopted press will be part of the reason why.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.